Cincinnati Children’s Leading Pediatric Cardiology QI Effort

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Many of the heart conditions that pediatric cardiologists encounter are so rare that defining best treatment practices is difficult.

That’s why caregivers from across the country are coming to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center this weekend. They are from 29 pediatric cardiology programs that have come together to form the National Pediatric Cardiology Quality Improvement Collaborative, an initiative to dramatically improve outcomes for children with congenital heart disease.

“Quality improvement science has demonstrated that reducing process variation leads to more favorable outcomes, safer practices, cost savings and improved operating efficiency,” says Robert Beekman, MD, a cardiologist in the Heart Institute at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and lead cardiologist for the collaborative.

The collaborative will have its first “learning session” on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 11 and 12. Initial activities will be to build a sustainable, collaborative database to be used by pediatric cardiologists, and to plan and implement meaningful quality improvement projects. The initial improvement project is intended to improve survival and quality of life of infants with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital condition that is fatal if left untreated.

Infant HLHS occurs when the left side of the heart doesn’t develop completely. It is one of the highest-risk conditions children encounter at pediatric cardiac centers. HLHS requires a three-stage surgical procedure – the first of which, called the Norwood, can occur in the first few days of life. Survival rates continue to rise as surgical technique and postoperative management improve. Survival after the first stage is greater than 75 percent.

Since evidence-based guidelines for the inpatient and outpatient care of children with HLHS do not exist, there is little guidance for pediatric cardiologists about how to best care for these children. Collaborative members hope to improve survival and quality of life during the period between the first and second stages of surgical procedures.

The collaborative is an initiative of the Joint Council on Congenital Heart Disease. Quality improvement and design support is led by the Center for Health Care Quality at Cincinnati Children’s. 

About Cincinnati Children’s

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is one of 10 children’s hospitals in the United States to make the Honor Roll in U.S. News and World Reports 2009-10 Americas Best Children’s Hospitals issue. It is #1 ranked for digestive disorders and is also highly ranked for its expertise in respiratory diseases, cancer, neonatal care, heart care, neurosurgery, diabetes, orthopedics, kidney disorders and urology. One of the three largest children’s hospitals in the U.S., Cincinnati Children’s is affiliated with the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and is one of the top two recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health.

President Barack Obama in June 2009 cited Cincinnati Children’s as an island of excellence in health care. For its achievements in transforming health care, Cincinnati Children’s is one of six U.S. hospitals since 2002 to be awarded the American Hospital Association-McKesson Quest for Quality Prize for leadership and innovation in quality, safety and commitment to patient care. The hospital is a national and international referral center for complex cases. Additional information can be found at

Contact Information

Jim Feuer, 513-636-4656,